Valerie Strawn, a history major, is one of 30 students across the country named a 2011 Gilder Lehrman history scholar. Strawn will attend a concentrated history program from June 18 to 25 in New York City. The program encourages passion for American history through field trips to museums and historical sites, career discussions and lectures by leading historical scholars. Past scholarship recipients have continued their education through graduate programs at Columbia, Harvard and Yale. Strawn was recommended by history department chair Amanda Podany.
Strawn’s interest in U.S. history was inspired by her teacher Michael Silva, who at the time was a recent Cal Poly Pomona graduate.
“He approached history in a unique way allowing the students to be very involved in our learning experience,” Strawn says. “At this point I realized there is much more to history than just studying textbooks and reading about old events.”
Strawn plans to utilize the skills gained from this program to further her historical education.
“This program provides for me an invaluable opportunity to gain access to archival material that I might otherwise never been able to see or use,” she says. “While in New York I will gain research skills that I will be able to apply in my study of history.”
Strawn believes there is a direct link between this program and her goal of becoming a high school teacher.
“Once I become a teacher, my goal would be to implement not only the knowledge I gained from Cal Poly Pomona, but to also use my experiences in the Gilder Lehrman Program to give students a more hands-on approach, especially with primary documents.”